Korean Traditional Dance: Buchaechum

Anisha Nath, Kolkata, West Bengal

I am sure that those who are reading this article surely have listened to K-Pop and watched music videos but did you know about the different kinds of Korean traditional dance forms which are also very beautiful and amazing? In this article, I will be talking about one of the famous Korean traditional dance forms called Buchaechum, (Buchae means Fan and Chum means dance). This dance is a neoclassical Korean dance based on various historical and religious dances. It is a very old form derived from a shamanistic dance that warded off evil spirits by the means of using a large leaf. It is a group dance performed mainly by groups of females using folding fans. One day I came across one of the performances of Buchaechum and it really attracted me towards it. I have always liked fan dances so I was really fascinated by this dance form and all those amazing moves.

Picture Credits: Wikimedia

As I liked the performance so much, I searched about this dance. It was created in 1954 by dancer Kim Baek-bong who drew influences from both Korean shamanic ritual dances and traditional Joseon court and folk dances. This dance became famous in other Asian countries like Japan and China. It became popular because of its beautiful formations made during the dance. The dance is performed in many events mainly during spring because the dance represents the blooming of the flowers. The dancers using the pink peonies painted fans make formations of images of flowers, birds, waves and butterflies and they wear bright-coloured Hanbok which is Korea’s traditional dress while performing which looks so elegant. The dance form is performed by Korean traditional folk songs or Sanjo (instrumental solo).

Picture Credits: Korean Cultural Centre, New York

After getting interested in the dance I watched a lot of videos of the dance on YouTube. I watched some live videos of some shows. On the 2018 Melon Music Award BTS’ Jimin also performed Buchaechum on their stage. That was the first time I saw a man dancing Buchaechum as it is traditionally performed by female dancers. The stage had three kinds of traditional dance forms including Buchaechum as a small part. The formations that the dancers make are so fascinating that you will watch the dance without even blinking your eyes for once. Coordination is the most important thing in a group dance and the Buchaechum dancers do that so well, they have good coordination between them which makes the dance so beautiful and amazing to watch. As the dance got recognized among the people it got support from the government and society to continue to be preserved and developed.

Video Credits: BANGTANTV

The dance has become popular worldwide as one of the main dances that represent Korea. This is performed worldwide by Koreans. It had gained popularity mainly internationally since its appearance at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico and the audiences loved the dance. This delightful dance form had attracted audiences of all ages wherever it is performed and touched their heart. This dance form combines visual arts and elegance. The dancers perform on a bare stage usually, brightly lit so that their choreography can stand on its own with nothing to distract from it. The dancers perform on a bare stage usually, brightly lit so that their choreography can stand on its own with nothing to distract from it.

The beginning of the dance shows the dancers all posed in stillness, their fans held up in front of their faces. One solitary dancer reveals her face, and rises, moving the fans gracefully around her face and body. Gradually, the dancers around her begin to move their fans as well, as if waking up from sleep. Eventually, all twenty or so dancers are up, moving around the stage, and the original soloist tends to get lost as all of the identical costumed performers go through the steps. There are many more movement combinations, sometimes filling the stage with colour and motion and sometimes contracting into tight balls of stillness, buzzing with potential energy. The dance is known for showcasing the elegant and graceful aspects of classical technique in a format suitable for modern audiences.

Video Credits: K-Community Festival

Did you know about this dance form, if not then I hope the article is enlightening.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I knew about this dance form. Thanks for explaining it in detail.

  2. mamonim161 says:

    I saw Buchaechum for the first time in Jimin’s performance at MMA, the same as yours. But I didn’t know much about it. The traditional dance form is well introduced in the article❤🙌

  3. Moumita Mondal says:

    I first saw it in MMA 2018 When BTS performed this dance form . But didn’t know this much. Thanks for sharing ♥️

  4. Tirna says:

    What a wonderful dance form, and I also loved the inspiration behind it. The dance looks visually stunning.

  5. Such an interesting article

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